High Productivity Farms may be Greener than Organic
February 18, 2012 08:38 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
While organic farms are great, new research finds that farms that aim for high food production using environmentally-friendly practices could be better for the environment than both organic and conventional farms. A new study, led by Oxford University scientists, compared the environmental impact of different farming systems. They found that 'integrated' farms that maximized crop yields while using environmentally-friendly techniques — such as crop rotation, organic fertilisers, over winter cover crops, and minimal use of pesticides — would use less energy and generate lower greenhouse gas emissions per unit of production than both organic and conventional farms.
February 17, 2012 08:19 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Science has changed the world. It has created new products and ease of service. What the future will bring is, of course, always uncertain. "It’s not every day you have robots running through your house," Barack Obama quipped last week at the White House science fair, a showcase for student exhibitors that also gave the US president a chance to reiterate a favourite theme. Science and technology, he said, "is what’s going to make a difference in this country, over the long haul".
Fracking impacts reviewed in major study
February 17, 2012 07:01 AM - Erik Stokstad, from Science
A controversial method of drilling for natural gas, called fracking, has boomed in recent years—as have concerns over its potential to cause environmental contamination and harm human health. But a major review of the practice uncovered no signs that it is causing trouble below ground. "We found no direct evidence that fracking itself has contaminated groundwater," said Charles Groat of the University of Texas, Austin, who led the study. The report, released at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (which publishes ScienceNOW), doesn't give this form of natural gas extraction a clean bill of health.
Europe and US sign trade agreement over organic products
February 16, 2012 08:56 AM - ClickGreen staff, ClickGreen
The European Union and the United States has announced that organic products certified in Europe or in the United States may be sold as organic in either region. This partnership between the two largest organic-producers in the world will establish a strong foundation from which to promote organic agriculture, benefiting the growing organic industry and supporting jobs and businesses on a global scale.
Organic Brown Rice and Arsenic
February 16, 2012 06:38 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
A new study by Professor Brian Jackson, director of the Trace Element Analysis Core Facility at Dartmouth has found alarming levels of Arsenic in Organic Brown Rice and Brown Rice Syrup. This is particularly alarming since Brown Rice Syrup is being sought by health conscious consumers as a "healthy" alternative to sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Dartmouth researchers and others have previously called attention to the potential for consuming harmful levels of arsenic via rice, and organic brown rice syrup may be the latest culprit on the scene. With the introduction of organic brown rice syrup into food processing, even the health conscious consumer may unknowingly be ingesting arsenic. Recognizing the potential danger, Brian Jackson and other Dartmouth researchers conducted a study to determine the concentrations of arsenic in commercial food products containing organic brown rice syrup including infant formula, cereal/energy bars, and high-energy foods used by endurance athletes.
Budget Woes and Ozone
February 15, 2012 08:00 AM - Editor, ENN
Budgets are being cut all over. So something has to be hurting. U.S. scientists are raising the alarm about Environment Canada saying cuts in the department could go far beyond ozone monitoring. Programs tracking pollution wafting into Canada from Asia, Europe and the U.S. are also being hit, they say. And it’s an open question if Canada will be able to fulfil its obligations under several international agreements if more cuts go ahead, five leading atmospheric scientists write in the newsletter of the American Geophysical Union, which has 61,000 members in 148 countries.
Geo-engineering: now Bill Gates is supporting it
February 15, 2012 07:45 AM - Kara Scharwath, Triple Pundit
With the help of a group of very wealthy and well known individuals, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Chairman of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson, a group of leading climate scientists are advocating for the use of controversial geoengineering as a way to prevent catastrophic climate change. The scientists are lobbying national governments and international organizations to fund experiments that would involve manipulating the atmosphere on a large scale to counteract high concentrations of greenhouse gases. These might include methods like fertilizing the oceans to create a huge carbon sink or spraying reflective particles or other chemicals into the air to reflect sunlight and prevent it from warming the atmosphere.
New Jersey Threatened with Mandatory Water Fluoridation
February 14, 2012 08:20 AM - Editor, Organic Consumers Association
Despite objections from environmentalists and utility officials, New Jersey is under threat of mandatory fluoridation, which is the addition of fluoride chemicals into the public drinking water ostensibly to reduce tooth decay. Despite admission by the Federal Government that American children are fluoride over-exposed and that fluoride's benefits are primarily topical, New Jersey legislators are crafting a law that will force fluoridation on the entire state, reports the Fluoride Action Network (FAN).
Arctic Warming Continuing, Approaching Tipping Point?
February 14, 2012 07:20 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
Last year the Arctic, which is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth due to global climate change, experienced its warmest twelve months yet. According to recent data by NASA, average Arctic temperatures in 2011 were 2.28 degrees Celsius (4.1 degrees Fahrenheit) above those recorded from 1951-1980. As the Arctic warms, imperiling its biodiversity and indigenous people, researchers are increasingly concerned that the region will hit climatic tipping points that could severely impact the rest of the world. A recent commentary in Nature Climate Change highlighted a number of tipping points that keep scientists awake at night.
Tetrachloroethylene Toxicity EPA Risk Assessment
February 13, 2012 11:04 AM - Editor, ENN
Tetrachloroethylene, also known under its systematic name tetrachloroethene and many other names, is a chlorocarbon. It is a colorless liquid widely used for dry cleaning of fabrics and is sometimes called "dry-cleaning fluid". It has a sweet odor detectable by most people at a concentration of 1 part per million (1 ppm). It is also used in the cleaning of metal machinery and to manufacture some consumer products and other chemicals. Confirming longstanding scientific understanding and research, the final EPA risk assessment characterizes this material as a likely human carcinogen. The assessment provides estimates for both cancer and non-cancer effects associated with exposure to it over a lifetime.